The perception of marine nature´s
Since the very beginning of the international MARE conferences, the thinking of many participants mainly social scientists, has been quite irreversibly drawn towards such issues as fishing resources management and coastal management. In 2001, however, it has been drawn towards ethics, too! (SSI, 2002, 41,4) This is not so strange if we consider the growing dominance of decontextualising political and economical epistemès which is completely centred on the economic man and more recently (1997) on the services of nature altered or not. This services in a "market economy " should be priced. This economistic trend had the effect of overlooking if not repressing the specificity of this type of "ecological affordances" (Gibson, 1979; Ingold, 1992; 2000) which are absolutely not reducible to that one of land based ecosystems (Cury, 2003; SSI 2007, 46, 1, special issue). In the long span of time, since the Mesolithic, marine affordances have supported everywhere in the world singular social halieutical morphologies.

Seventeen years ago on the base of the Standard Cross Cultural Sample (Murdock and White, 1969), we demonstrated (SSI, 1991; 30, 3) that the social organisation of the sea based societies extracting their livelihood and way of life of the sea could not be reduced to those of hunter gatherers. Much more matrilineal than hunter gatherers societies, able to accumulate a great quantity of goods from the rich marine ecosystems, crowded in large settlements, highly stratified and prompt to external warfare, they differ sharply from the structural qualities of the hunter gatherers societies. It is quite strange that the Founding Father of the anthropology in France, Marcel Mauss, nephew of Emile Durkheim, the Founding Father of the sociology and religions studies, in his very famous essay: "The Gift" (1925, 1954) - drawing his ethnographical evidences from the research field of Franz Boas on the Kwakiult Potlatch and that one of Bronislaw Malinowski (1922) on the Kula in Trobiands - has not really considered that totalling anthropo - logics of the gift have developed in sea oriented societies and that they can be women gendered, too (Weiner 1976, 1992)

The Founding Father of the structural anthropology, Claude Levi Strauss, deceased at 101 years, presenting in 1950 the work of Marcel Mauss to the French Scholars and public dismissed these ontological singularities, the peculiarity of the modes of being acting and thinking for exposing his own theory according to which the society is inherently exchange of women by men based on the pre eminence of the symbolic, the structuring game of the "wavering signifier" rooted in the "universal unconscious structures of the mind". This fortunately declining theory represents a strong mortifying and possibly lethal male bias combined with a paramount reified idealism. The issue is not here to restore the poor harrisian empiricism or vulgar materialism. Indeed, the real marine entities fishes or shells are not the fishes or the shells in the mythical space, but they are neither maize nor square circles, an impossible imaginary ontological fiction. However all happened as if the practical engagement in the marine environment would have no effects on the social organisation as on the plane of the imagination (imaginary) of the "fictional reality" (Wittgenstein, 1922). Thus the question remains: what about marine nature, what about sea based morphological social organisations and much more: what about the significance of the sea?

How do these people, who have lived from the sea and continue to do so in large areas of the world, value this global entity? How do they fully relate with marine entities? It exist an extremely rich diversity of myths, rituals in the world which have imbued the material appropriation of the marine entities. The objects precious or sacred with which these rituals operated and operate have not only a material reality and rarity but an imaginary one, an "idéelle" one, structuring their valence (Godelier, 1984, 1996). Strictly considering, no rule of law can explain the deep reality (ontological, semiotical, fictional) which makes whole entities like land - sea estates are an inalienable common good, that some fish species are sacred (for example the sharks and tunas in Melanesia) and no other big or small. The size of the fishes is not at all a factor explaining the imaginary valence. Small species can be sacred, too, as the red mullet in Tonga (Bataille-Benguigui, 1994). In the very ancient Phoenician sea based culture, the purple industrially extracted from the Muricidae (Spinous Murex and Apple Murex) on a large scale in each Phoenician settlement with its rich hues range, was a sacred colour, as it played a sacralizing function of the power. It constituted the signifier, the marker in the funerary rituals of navigations in the realm of death (SSI, 1995, Halieutica Phoenicia I, 34, 1).

In brief, it is the imaginary in its always peculiar modalities, modes of imagination (Spinoza, Ethics I, Appendix) which explains the high "symbolical value" of these marine entities such as the fact that customary marine tenures are also in the same time a true "cultural property" (Cordell, 2001) of which myths, stories, legends provide practical moral guidelines, constitute the supporting framework of social identity and personhood. Regarding to the sea based societies or communities, the question remains whether the circuit of the mankind to the gods, with very often a determining role of women or female signifiers (Collet, 1992, Anthropologie Maritime IV) and its materialisation in practices and objects is of the same type as that one for the land based societies? (Collet,1992,1996,2006)

Old and recent anthropological field studies have put in light the functionalist role of danger at sea (Malinowski, 1922; Firth, 1939; Poggie, 1980) to explain the force and the perseverance of magic and ritual practices. Much more relevant to explain this perseverance of magic is he inherent contingent character of the halieutical appropriation. Then, does a specific connection between the plane, the strand oft he ecosystemic causality and that one oft he sacred in sea based societies exist? How ecological value and imaginary value interfere?

We de not think at all that this come back to such an anthropological reasoning on the halieutical causality is outmoded, especially at the MARE International Conferences. The significance of the sea in its rich imaginary configurations is not at all a thing of the past, a secondary anecdotal issue if we keep in mind that people do not care for what they do not value (for example female babys or women). Valuing, i.e. to give worth to the natural entities or human ones is today more and more amounted to the pricing of natural services, natural capital, indeed a metaphorisation of the economy. This trend represents the last avatar of the finalism, of the fetishism and idolatry. The market logic, especially the financial one which drives the global capitalism in a full crisis has been apotheosized in a new form of Western societal pathology. Since 15 years, this deadly neo liberalistic logic looks for ordering not only the human sphere, but also the physical ecological one appeared some billions of years ago on this earth.
Cultural institutions like marine customary tenures, sacred sea refugees or many soft ritualized fishing practices have a regulatory significance. Human engagement with marine environment has involved unconscious aspects. Destroying marine nature, like the complex cultural ways to deal with it, are the two faces of the same process; that is the destruction of the meaningful. This session of the fifth internationel Mare conference 2009 intends to reappraise this regulatory significance in the halieutical appropriation's modes, which has been put in light in the pioneering work in ecological anthropology by Roy Rappaport in "Pigs for Ancestors", published 40 years ago. Deceased in October 1997, completing the great book of his life "Ritual and Religion in the Making of Humanity", we propose to devote to him this special session.

10th July 2008